The US space agency “NASA” announced, on Monday, that the unmanned Orion capsule as part of the “Artemis 1” mission has reached the closest point to the moon.
NASA said in a statement that the capsule is flying around the back side of the moon at a distance of about 80 miles (128 kilometers) on its way to lunar orbit, according to the Associated Press.
The capsule is scheduled to spend nearly a week in orbit around the moon, before returning to Earth and landing in the Pacific Ocean on December 11.
This test flight aims to ensure that the capsule is “safe” to transport future crews of astronauts to the moon in the coming years.
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And last Wednesday, NASA launched its new giant rocket towards the moon as part of the “Artemis 1” mission from Florida.
The rocket carries the unmanned capsule to the moon without landing on its surface, in the first such experiment in 50 years, when the Apollo program was launched.
The launch came after two failed attempts last summer, when a hydrogen leak led to the cancellation of a second take-off attempt at the last moments, while weather conditions canceled the first attempt.
And NASA officials confirmed, at the time, that these problems are normal, “because the vehicle is completely new.”
It is expected that the “Artemis 2” mission will transport astronauts to the moon without landing on it in 2024, while the first landing of a manned mission will happen to the “Artemis 3” crew in 2025 at the earliest.